It was afternoon of the day after Halloween when the minion took the chance and carefully entered the master’s bedroom.
“Sir?” he whispered. “Are you awake?”
“Fortune has smiled on you,” the form on the bed growled. “I was awakened by the low-flying aeroplane. Have you news for me?”
“Not so much news sir…as clarification. We are curious as to…” He swallowed hard.
To his relief, a chuckle came from the man on the bed. “As to why my plan is what it is? Well – I am in a lenient mood. It is simple – divide and conquer. As for the first choice – he is the most vulnerable and they have no defense against attack on him. With him incapacitated and the others worried –“ He began to laugh.
The minion laughed as well. “One thing, Master – when do we begin?”
“At nine tonight. Go reassure everyone we shall begin tonight.”
“And – send one of my blood-slaves in. I hunger.”
“Aye, sir,” the minion bowed as he retreated.
Andrew Nesmith smiled as he stretched, his fangs down and his eyes blood-red. “Soon, my dear descendant….soon.”
Peter Tork woke screaming from one of his psychic dreams. By the time MacLaren and Davy Jones could get across the room to him, he was so deep into shock that all he could do was murmur incoherently.
Davy bolted for help and MacLaren sat on the bed, paternally stroking Peter’s forehead and cheeks. “There, lad – you’re safe, you’re home, t’was all a dream…”
“…coming….” Peter groaned as Davy returned with food – and their other two roommates. “He’s….coming….”
Mike Nesmith, ignoring his own ringing headache from the empathic battering Peter’s dreams gave him, sat behind Peter and propped him up while Davy carefully forced sweet orange juice down his throat and wiped away the spills.
Once the raging hypoglycemia was under control enough for Peter to eat on his own, Micky Dolenz asked gently, “You able to tell us what it was about?”
Peter shivered at the memory. “Pain. A lot of fighting. Fire…I-I saw the Pad….burn to the ground.”
Four pairs of eyes met. Mike asked, “Pete – you’re sure it was the Pad you saw burn?” At Peter’s miserable nod, he felt his spine arch in fear. “Oh, no…”
Peter’s psychic dreams always came true. Each of them began to make private plans to get their important stuff out of the Pad. MacLaren sent up a silent prayer of thanks that Ruth had gone to the other coast for a few weeks.
“MacLaren?” Peter whimpered.
The small vampyre took Peter’s hand in both of his. “Aye, lad?”
Peter sniffled before he finished, “It’s Andrew. He’s coming.”
“D’you know when, lad?”
“Tonight. He’s coming tonight.”
Alex closed the back of the station wagon on the five small suitcases and watched as Mike loaded the guitars and keyboard into the back seat. “You’re sure this is everything?”
Micky nodded. “My sticks and spare heads are in my suitcase – rims honestly don’t cost that much.” He handed his cymbals to Mike, who loaded them in.
“Yeah, cheap rims,” Alex huffed. “We need to get you some better drums.” He closed the door.
“Hey,” Micky said, suddenly all seriousness. “Thanks, Alex.”
Alex waved a hand. “Not at all,” he said. “Anything I can do to help, all you gotta do is ask.”
Micky leaned forward and whispered to Alex, and the teenager laughed. “Definitely. See you then!” he got in the car and drove away, waving.
Peter turned to Micky. “What did you ask him?”
“If we could romp on the beach in a couple of days,” Micky smiled. “I got a new Frisbee...”
“Ooh,” Peter grinned. “He’ll love that!”
Davy burst into sudden laughter as they walked back toward the house.
”What?” Mike asked.
“Remember the last time we went beach-romping with Alex?” Davy giggled. “The look on that sleepy passing hippie’s face…”
Peter joined in the laughter. “And Michael’s comeback was perfect!”
“What?” Mike repeated. “All I did was ask him if he’d never seen a timber wolf playing Frisbee with a barrel of Monkees!” And he grinned as everyone cracked up at the memory.
A bit further down the beach, a woman trained a flashlight onto the dial of her watch. She watched the seconds hand tick inexorably toward the twelve.
At last, the sweeping hand brushed the top of the dial. She turned to her companion. “Nine o’clock. Go.”
Mike’s feet had just crossed the threshold of the Pad when both hands flew to his head. He arched back in agony and screamed as his knees buckled.
“Mike!” Davy cried, crashing to his knees beside his suffering bandmate. Peter fell to his other side and Davy climbed to his feet, WeaponsMaster instincts screaming alarm at him.
Micky joined him, looking around. “What is it?”
Davy’s voice was grim. “I think Peter’s dream has begun.”
Peter looked up in alarm as MacLaren glided in, face just as grim.
Andrew grinned in pleasure as he hung up the phone. “Now,” he laughed as he licked the wound on his blood-slave’s neck, causing it to heal as she trembled. “It’s begun.”
Mike was curled onto the couch, panting in agony. Peter sat beside him, rubbing his shoulder.
MacLaren walked up. “How is he?”
“The same,” Peter sighed. “Davy was right – this has all the earmarks of a planned attack.”
With a sigh, MacLaren sat on the couch as well, pushing Mike’s damp hair from his forehead. “There must be a way to ease his pain.”
“You said the pain was his Gift’s Price.”
“Aye,” MacLaren frowned. “But a Price should not be debilitating. Even your sugar problems aren’t debilitating.”
From the doorway came Micky’s, “Sounds like you’ve got a plan brewing.”
“I do.” MacLaren met his eyes. “If I can get him hypnotized, perhaps I can manage to minimize his Price.”
Micky and Peter looked at each other. Peter looked down at Mike, then back at Micky. “He’ll go insane if this keeps up.”
“Yes,” Micky said, his eyes turning to MacLaren. “If it’ll help him – do it.”
MacLaren ordered them both to the doorway. “So you don’t get caught in it.”
Peter got to his feet and lay a hand on MacLaren’s shoulder. “Be careful,” he whispered.
MacLaren smiled warmly and petted his hand. Lowering his voice to a whisper, he said, “I will, Daddy Peter.”
Chuckling, Peter joined Micky at the doorway. He turned to watch the proceedings.
Returning to the couch, MacLaren gently lay his hands on Mike’s shoulders. The empath flinched and moaned as thought the touch caused him even more pain. When MacLaren gently turned Mike onto his back, his eyes were tightly closed and his face was white.
“I know it hurts, lad,” MacLaren soothed. “I know it does. I need you to fight it as much as you can. I need you to open your eyes and look at me.”
For a long moment, there was no response. Then—agonizingly slowly – Mike shook his head. “….hurts…. too….b-bad….”
Gently, MacLaren stroked the pale cheek. “I know, Michael. I know. If you can open them, I will endeavour to remove the pain.”
Several deep, pained breaths later, Mike’s eyes opened – brown slits in his pale face.
“Micky!” Davy yelled from the bedroom. “Come here!”
Micky ran into the bedroom and saw him looking out the window. He followed his gaze, and gasped. “Peter, c’mere!”
MacLaren nodded. “I can do this by myself. You go on, lad.”
Peter joined Micky and Davy at the bedroom window. His jaw dropped at what he saw.
It was a calm evening. There was no wind, no clouds….
But the sea was churning.
“Why is it doing that?” Peter gasped as he watched the rolling waves. “There’s no wind, and Andrew can’t do this!”
Micky shook his head. “Siryns can.”
Davy shivered, memories of his attack by a siryn welling up fresh and painful. “You don’t think they’re going to attack as well?”
A muscle in Micky’s jaw twitched. “We’ll keep an eye out just in case – but no, I don’t think so. A concentrated, cooperative attack simply isn’t their style. I think they’re just reacting to what’s going on here.”
Satisfied, Peter turned away from the window. Davy looked at Micky. “I’ll keep an eye out.”
“Thanks, man,” Micky said. He squeezed Davy’s shoulder. Davy turned back to the window and Micky followed Peter.
He found Peter standing in the doorway of the living room, watching MacLaren work with Mike. “He’ll be all right,” Micky whispered.
“I hope so,” Peter whispered back, heaving a sigh from what seemed to be his toes. “He’s in so much pain…”
“Hey,” Micky said, smiling at Peter. “He did all right with me – and the stakes were just as high.”
Peter nodded, too worried to really pay attention.
Micky took his wrist. “C’mon, you. Let’s get food into you.”
“M’fine,” Peter slurred.
“You’re not fine.” Micky turned him around. “You’re all but dead on your feet. This hit too fast to be normal tiredness. C’mon.”
Peter protested, but allowed himself to be led to the kitchen.
Half an hour later, Davy walked into the kitchen and helped himself to a boiled egg.
“What are you doing here?” Micky asked.
Davy smiled. “The water’s been calm for twenty minutes. Nothing’s come out of it. Whatever got the siryns stirred up, it appears to be over.”
“That’s good,” Micky smiled. “That’s real good.”
Peter nodded and drained his milk. “It is. Now all we have to worry about is how MacLaren is doing with Michael.”
As if on cue, MacLaren appeared in the kitchen. He knuckled his eyes and yawned a fanged yawn.
Realising the vampyre had yet to feed from his day-long sleep, Davy jumped up and headed for the refrigerator. He poured a tall glass of blood from a mason jar and passed it under MacLaren’s nose.
“Give,” MacLaren growled, taking it from him. “Too hungry t’play.” He drained the glass, seeming to wake from a mild trance as he did so. As he licked the last droplets from his mouth, he reported, “Mike sleeps.”
“Were you able to—“ Micky began.
“He’s not in as severe pain,” MacLaren interrupted. “As for if I was successful – well, we’ll have t’wait till he wakes for that.”
“My Lord!” the minion panted excitedly as he burst into the stylized throne room in the warehouse basement.
A second later, he found himself lifted off the ground, his hands pulling ineffectually at the single powerful hand that had clamped itself over his throat. “You dare burst in on your king?” Andrew snarled into his face.
“I…bring….wonderful…news!” the minion choked out.
“I’m listening.” The grip loosened, but did not release.
Gagging, the minion gasped, “The…empath….is staggered. As you…predicted…. Constant presence…of us….”
“Aye, of course,” Andrew snarled. “The plan was mine. As for you…”
Andrew smiled coldly and released the minion, who fell to his knees, gasping and choking.
His relief changed to terror and pain as Andrew attacked and drank deeply. The minion groaned as he was reduced to a mindless blood-slave – a vessel only fit to be drained every few days.
Andrew wiped his mouth and glared as the new blood-slave sank insensate to the floor. “I am not in a merciful mood,” he snarled as he looked at the unconscious form.
“If I were, I would have killed you outright.”
Mike groaned, his hands flying to his head as sleep retreated and pain returned.
He frowned as he realised yes, he was in pain – but it was nowhere near the crippling level it had been. “Mac…Laren?”
“How are you, lad?” MacLaren asked, sitting on the couch beside him.
“Better,” Mike mumbled. “Can we…finish?”
“Are you sure, Mike?”
Mike nodded, though his expression betrayed the pain that caused. “I’m…sure. Let’s…get this…over with.”
With a gentle smile, MacLaren caught Mike’s eyes and slowly sank him back into hypnotic trance.
Once there, they began again.
Racing through the hallways, the summoned minion burst into the throne room. He fell to his knees and prostrated himself. “Milord!”
Andrew smiled and stepped down from the throne. He ran his hand through the minion’s long blond hair. “I cherish obedience, Niles. You have obeyed my call – and I cherish you for it.”
The Monkees’ neighbour – whose thrall they had mistaken for a constant stoner’s high – smiled dreamily at his master. “Thank you, sire. I have not been summoned in months – how may I serve you?”
“I require a messenger. Deliver this to my operative on the beach.” He held out a sealed envelope. “Do not concern yourself with its contents.”
“Aye, sir.” When Niles took the envelope, Andrew fed him pleasure through the thrall-link. Niles groaned in joy as he left.
Andrew smirked, enjoying the irony. The signal to begin the physical attack – now that the empath was incapacitated – delivered by one of their very own.
By one they trusted, who had no idea what he was delivering.
The delicious irony made Andrew laugh for a solid half-hour.
Davy chuckled as he returned Niles’ wave and watched him head into his house. “Ah, nice to see some things never change.”
“Oh?” Peter asked, raising his eyes from his book.
“Niles, out for a midnight stroll,” was all Davy said and Peter chuckled, nodding and smiling fondly.
From the window, Micky frowned. “Davy?”
Davy joined him at the window and mirrored his expression. “Huh.”
“The Siryns again?” Peter asked, closing his book.
“Not this time.” Micky moved to the sliding back door. “There’s a crowd gathering out there.”
“And I don’t think they’re friendlies,” Davy finished. “You two go. Give me a second to get weapons together.”
Micky grinned over his shoulder. “Can’t wait to see what you come up with now.”
“Me either,” Davy quipped as he headed toward the kitchen.
Chuckling despite the sudden tension in the air, Micky and Peter headed into the night lit by the rising moon.
Micky and Peter moved to the bottom of the stairs and onto the beach, walking about a hundred yards onto the sand before deciding – jointly and unspoken – to make a stand. They separated and waited.
A few moments later, Davy walked out to join them. He stood between them, grim-faced and visibly unarmed.
“Davy,” Micky hissed in a whisper.
“I’m armed,” Davy hissed back. Satisfied, Micky turned back to the approaching crowd.
The crowd stopped about a hundred yards from them. Micky and Davy’s eyes each scanned the crowd, taking a quick head count.
The trio were outnumbered five-to-one. Fifteen to twenty didn’t make a spectacularly large mob, but fifteen to twenty against three was still lousy odds.
Micky took another step forward. “What do you want?”
The answer was as immediate as it was predictable. “MacLaren!”
Peter glanced over at Micky and Davy. None of them had missed that this time there was no ‘and we’ll leave you alone’.
“You can’t have him,” Davy shot back, ice filling his voice.
The one that had spoken cracked his knuckles. “Then we’ll take the next best thing – hunks of Monkee hide!” He swept a hand toward the three.
With those words, the small mob surged forward.
The three Monkees scattered. Micky and Peter dodged to either side. Davy stood his ground, hauling a rolled strip of leather and wood from his jeans pocket.
Micky smiled as he recognised one of his own belts – lashed to a small wooden spoon with a leather shoestring. Davy unrolled it and held it by the spoon ‘handle’.
The WeaponsMaster had indeed been armed all along – with a whip.
The crowd impacted with fists and kicks. Micky and Peter defended themselves as best they could. Davy’s whip cracked and bit, and he swiftly took the offensive.
Peter saw three of the mob break through and tear toward the Pad. “Stop!” he roared, whirling and trying to run after them.
He didn’t get far. Peter was tackled, and he hit the sand with a “WHOOF!”
Micky was similarly tackled, and it took four of them each to hold the struggling pair down.
The remaining nine were keeping Davy busy. Each time Davy found an opening and headed for the house, their attacks would redouble.
“We can’t let them make it to the house!” Peter roared, struggling mightily but futilely.
One of those holding him laughed. “Bet MacLaren and the empath are still in there!” When Peter’s struggling increased, he howled. “They are! DO IT!”
“NO!” Peter screamed as the unmistakable reek of gasoline hit his nose. “No – NO!”
Micky froze. “Oh…no…”
Davy looked toward the house. “Oh…shit!”
Their assailants arranged Micky and Peter so they could watch. Coldly, the three that had gotten through threw gasoline against the walls of the Pad.
One of them smiled as he gazed at them. “A vampyre is greatly vulnerable.” He struck a match. “To fire.”
Casually, he flipped it over his shoulder.
It was as if the Pad exploded. A fireball rose before it settled into a steady – but completely involved – burn.
“Mike!” Peter screamed. “Mac! MIIIIIIIKE!”
“Save your breath,” one of those holding Peter laughed. “They’re already dead.”
Micky and Davy looked at each other, tears welling in their eyes. Peter’s screaming voice merged with the crackling roar of the flames.
As another Mike Peter had cherished burned out of his life, an unholy light began to shine in Peter’s tawny brown eyes.
The light of insanity.
The one who had thrown the match to ignite the Pad ordered, “Up! We’re done here! The vampyre has been destroyed in the flames!”
Cheers went up all around as minions released Monkees and stood. One disarmed Davy of his whip. Micky slowly gained his feet.
Peter climbed to his feet – and attacked. Caught off-guard, minions scrambled to avoid the suddenly frenetic attack. Micky and Davy joined the fray, and minions began to flee.
Peter had eyes for only one minion, however. He fought his way through until he could reach him unhindered. With a snarl of grief-fueled fury, Peter tackled the man to the sand.
Rolling him over to his back, Peter took only a second to verify this was the one who’d thrown the match. Secure in knowing he’d gotten the right man, Peter straddled him and wrapped his hands around the man’s throat.
With an insane smirk on his face, Peter began to squeeze.
“Peter!” he heard Micky scream. “Peter, stop! You’ll kill him!”
“Exactly,” Peter growled. “Just like he killed Mike and Mac.”
Hands tugged at his shoulders, and he shook them off, focused on his task. He watched the man’s mouth gape open and his eyes begin to glaze. His victim’s hands tugged at his wrists, but Peter’s grip couldn’t be broken.
Peter’s smirk widened into nearly a smile as he heard scuffling behind him and voices that were clearly not his two surviving bandmates’ grunt in pain. “They can’t help you now,” he growled to the man he was choking. “Nobody can.” He tightened his grip still more, taking great satisfaction in hearing the man gag in response.
Powerful hands landed on Peter’s shoulders, pulling him off of his victim. “NO!” Peter yelled, struggling to get back to strangling the man, who had passed out as soon as Peter had released him. “No, let me go! He has to die – he killed them!”
“Bit premature, lad.” And he was released.
Peter whirled, his eyes widening in shock as he saw Davy’s features – with red eyes and a fanged smile. “Mac!”
A gentle hand touched his chin, turning it so Peter was looking into a pair of worried, chocolate-coloured eyes. “You okay there, Peter?”
“MIKE!” Peter’s hands clutched at Mike’s arms before flying around him in a great hug. “Mike…if you’re here…oh.” He pulled back, his face going absolutely serene. “Then I’m dead, too.”
The shock of everything slammed at once into Peter and he sagged into Mike’s arms.
“Mike—?” Micky asked pausing from tying up the goons MacLaren had dispatched to cast a frightened look at Peter.
“I don’t know,” Mike replied, rocking Peter as if he were a young child. “What I’m feeling from him…” He shook his head, his own eyes wide and frightened.
Peter opened his eyes and looked around. He was tucked into bed – but it wasn’t his bed in his room. Slowly, he sat up and looked around.
He had no idea where he was.
Memory hit like a fist and he doubled over, a low keening escaping him as he realised the Pad – his home – was gone. Burnt to the ground, with MacLaren and Mike inside.
“Nooooo….” He sobbed, barely registering the door opening. “…Mike….”
“Yeah?” came an unexpected voice. Peter gasped and looked up as Mike crossed the room to sit on the edge of his bed. Pain danced around the empath’s eyes as he scanned Peter and smiled gently. “It’s all right, Peter. You’re not dead. You’re not hallucinating and you’re not dreaming.”
Peter’s eyes narrowed. “You’d say that even if I was.”
Mike sighed. “Come here.”
“Why?” Peter sat up. “So you can bite me, Andrew? Turn me? No. Go away!”
Micky stood in the doorway, watching this byplay. “That’s not Andrew, Pete.”
Peter turned to face him. “Prove it.”
“We can,” Micky said, “but you have to go closer to him.” At the unusual suspicion in his eyes, Micky smiled reassuringly. “I’ll be right here. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
“You’d better not,” Peter sighed. He turned his eyes back to Mike, who barely suppressed the cringe at the madness that touched them. “What do I have to do?”
Mike spread his arms. “Just hug me.”
Peter slowly moved in for the hug, going low so “Andrew” wouldn’t attack his neck.
Which was exactly what Mike had in mind. When Peter’s cheek touched his chest, he gently repositioned his head.
Peter gasped aloud when he felt and heard Mike’s strong, steady heartbeat. His arms tightened around his friend and he just sat there for a moment, basking in it.
Slowly, Peter pulled back and whispered, “You’re here.”
“I’m here,” Mike whispered back.
Smiling, Mike gently cupped Peter’s cheeks and studied his eyes. He kept his voice calm, though part of him was shrieking with joy as the madness slowly receded from Peter’s eyes. “Yeah, Shotgun. I’m alive.”
Mike smiled. “Remember the blackout tunnel that connects to the basement?”
“Where MacLaren retreats when he’s in danger of getting stuck in the dawn,” Peter nodded.
“He drug me down into there and we came out the other end. We’re both alive. We made it, Peter.”
Peter held him for a long moment, then asked, “Where are we, Mike?”
“Alex’s house,” Mike replied, rubbing Peter’s back. “We’re fine now. We’re going to be fine.”
Andrew scowled, taping his fingers on the arm of his ersatz throne. “They should have returned by now,” he growled. “It’s nearly dawn.”
The door opened slightly and a fearful female minion looked around the jamb.
“Word?” Andrew barked.
“Aye, sir,” she said, creeping in.
He sighed. “By your attitude, I take it it is not good.”
“Out with it, then.”
She licked her lips. “MacLaren lives. The empath lives. Our enemies are intact. Their base of operations, however, has been burned to the ground.”
“And your fellows?”
She shook her head. “Gone, sir. Vanished. There are rumours they were arrested.”
Andrew nodded. “Go. Before I take my anger out on you.”
“Thank you for your mercy!” she gasped before fleeing.
Andrew roared his rage into the empty throne room. He retreated to his blackout room and curled into his bed.
“How?” he groaned. “HOW? The empath’s mind should have been destroyed! There’s no way they could trust MacLaren enough for his meager mesmerism to work! Humans can not trust vampyres!”
He shook his head. “No matter,” he yawned as his eyes drifted closed. “I shall make another plan. And then….my dear Childe … you are mine once more.”
With that thought warming him, Andrew fell into his deathlike day-sleep with a broad smile on his face.
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